1.27.2009

Creating A Community: Leave No Writer Behind


Every day I read good writing. I read it as my students imprint their thoughts to paper. I read it on blogs that fill me with appreciation, laughter, amazement, and curiosity every day. I read it in literature, magazines, and online.

Recently I asked my students to reflect on their writing. On an exam I asked the question," What made your writing better first semester?" For my newest students in sixth grade I smiled at their answers like " I write more, and more, and more", "I don't complain so much about doing writing," and "I use bigger, stronger words." Part of creating writers ( or better writers) is to help them view themselves as writers. Even more important is to create a writing community.

Blog sites like Sunday Scribblings create that community each week as bloggers from all over the world respond to the same prompt. Building a blogroll from my own personal blog has helped me build a writing community among other very talented writers. When I have worked with adult writers at our annual writing retreat building that community is as important. I strive to create that same environment in my classroom. It isn't always easy. Young adult writers can be hurt easily. They can also be shy to share their words. After working with my sixth graders ninety days in class I am beginning to see them shed some of their insecurities. It has taken lots of baby steps.

I nuture these writers by providing time, practice, feedback, and celebration. In the busyness of preparing students for state testing, making sure we make Adequate Yearly Progress and Leave No Child Behind teachers have to carve out time for the process of writing. In my experience with students I have learned to move out of the way and give them time and practice. I am there to provide feedback along with their fellow students and families. The icing on the cake is to celebrate their wondrous words by having an author chair, read-arounds, or provide places for them to publish. I look forward to continuing with this community of writers as we move into second semester.

In closing I think one student really figured out how to be successful in my class.
" I think the best thing I can do is write about things my teacher enjoys like dogs, flowers, and things that make her laugh. It is called buttering up the teacher!"
I call it embracing individuality and leaving no writer behind!

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